Atlanta is a superior test market for small- to medium-sized French companies which would find it more difficult to break into the more saturated  New York or other Northeast markets, according to Daniel Paret, France’s trade commissioner for the Southeast, who will be leaving next month to be the economic advisor to the French ambassador in New Zealand.

      “In Atlanta they can find a good example of what the market is like in America on a scale that is more adaptable to their own situation,” he said.

      But, he added, Atlanta’s profile would be raised substantially in France if it could attract the regional headquarters of a French company.

      He told GlobalFax during an interview in his office in the Marquis II Tower that such a move would have a multiplier effect on the impact of the anticipated October inauguration of an Air France direct flight to Hartsfield Atlanta International Airport.

      Meanwhile, Atlanta’s current strengths will continue to draw trade missions.  He expects two missions of small- to medium-sized companies to visit here this fall and two more in the spring of 1998.

      The emergence of the Atlanta Gift Mart as a competitor to similar facilities in Los Angeles and New York is attracting the interest of international buyers and sellers, and the multitude of trade shows also provides a big boost to the city’s profile.

      It is imperative, he added, that Atlanta’s exhibition facilities remain competitive with those elsewhere in the country to keep attracting international delegations. 

      “The only way you can make Atlanta a real international city is have more and more decision makers, both American and international, based here, and for foreign visitors to attend these conventions and trade shows,” he said.

      He also emphasized the importance of the French-American Chamber of Commerce in assisting his office develop business and trade relations in the Southeast.

      Mr. Paret, who arrived in Atlanta in September, 1991, will be based at the French embassy in Wellington.  He may be reached by calling the French Trade Commission at (404) 522-4843.